Two dazzling gems at Navaneetham's Yuva Nrithyathi
- Supriya Rajan
Photos: Sreenath Narayan

October 24, 2014

It was a perfect treat on Vijayadasami to watch a recital by Tabasmi Paul Majumder on the first day of the two day Navaneetham Cultural Trust's Nrithyathi - Vibes of Youth Festival held at Kerala Sahitya Academy Hall, Thrissur, Kerala. Based in Hooghly, Tabasmi, a disciple of Guru Malabika Mitra and undergoing advanced level training with Guru Rajendra Gangani, was a personification of devotion to her gurus and the art form. Much to the delight of the audience, Tabasmi gave a vocal invocation to goddess Saraswati before she began her Kathak recital with a Durga Vandana. The dancer presented the various moods of goddess Durga in the piece "Jaya Durge." The quick transition of expression on the dancer's face from the fierce Kali to the benevolent Durga was a delight to watch. 'Taalanga' in vilambit teen tal was the next piece. With firm footwork and beautifully executed tukdas, Tabasmi presented the different elements of the dance form on a platter. Trained in both Lucknow and Jaipur gharanas, Tabasmi interlaced her concert with tukdas from both styles. 'Kavit' is her guru Malabika Mitra's specialty and the disciple had no shortfalls in presenting it with all its delicacies. The dancer took us through the many moods of child Krishna with her pure abhinaya telling the story of Kaliadaman.

She moved on to gath nikas gracefully passing through the gaits of Radha, gopikas and peacocks. Dhrut teen taal was exposed though toras, parmelu and parans. Tabasmi had the audience completely absorbed in the concluding piece, a Meera Bhajan "Hari Tum Haro." With her skillful and natural abhinaya, she engaged the audience with her portrayal of Draupadivastraharan, Narasimha Avatar and Gajendra Mokhsa. Her skillful portrayal of the deceitful Shakuni and the defeated Dharmaputra were memorable.

Tabasmi Paul Majumder

Manisha Mohan

Expectations were high on the second day. After the commendable performance by Tabasmi, Manisha Mohan, the young Mohinattam dancer from the city had a huge responsibility on her shoulder, to present the dance form of the host state on a high pedestal. A disciple of RLV Anand, Manisha was groomed from a young age by Guru Kalamandalam Vinodini. It was a beautiful blossoming of the dancer on that evening under the eager eyes of the rasikas, her gurus and parents. There couldn't have been a better rasika on that day than the illustrious Guru Kalamandalam Kshemavathy, to witness this blossoming.

Manisha, with the support of a live musical ensemble, began her concert with an invocatory piece in Yamuna Kalyani raga and the Kerala tala karika. A composition of Kavalam Narayana Panikker and choreographed by RLV Anand in praise of Ganesha, Manisha presented it with great devotion and elegantly swayed through the movements. The fleeting glimpse of Mooshika and the overall bhakti in the piece along with the musical richness marked the invocatory piece.

"Matru Devo Bhava," the main piece of the evening was an elaborate composition which told the story of suffering of women through the many yugas. The women, represented by nature in Satya Yuga, Sita in Treta Yuga, Kunti, Gandhari and Draupadi in Dwapara Yuga and the present day women in Kali Yuga had a very dramatic tale to tell. Written by Madhu Perozhi and composed by Ajith Kumar Edapally, the piece was choreographed by RLV Anand. Beginning with a sloka by Sankaracharya on motherhood, the dancer very vividly presented the beauty of mother earth and later pointed to the atrocities of man against the benevolent mother.

The agony of the women continued from Satya Yuga to Dwapara Yuga as seen through the lives of the three epic women Kunti, Gandhari and Draupadi. The chorus 'Yugantharathiloodey Janani Ozhukiyethunnu Kanneeriloodey" connected the different characters by saying that the mother flowed through the Yugas as tears. Yielding to the greed for power and wealth, man has become like beasts and has forgotten the Neethi Shastra and mothers are shedding tears seeing the evil in the world. She stands like a statue, numb to react to the atrocities happening around her. Manisha maintained her energy level throughout the piece and elegantly portrayed the many moods and agony of mothers.

She concluded her concert with the popular Ashtakam "Harivarasanam" and was supported by a very strong team of musicians. On mridangam was Kalamandalam Kiran Gopinath, Nedumbally Ram Mohan on vocal, Sangeeth Mohan on violin, Chalakudy Raghunath on flute and Peringode Subramanyan on edakka.

The two days of Nrithyathi held on Oct 3 and 4 brought smiles on the faces of the audience and fortified their faith in the new generation of artistes that the new found gems have the promise to shine brighter.

Supriya Rajan is a disciple of Dr. Neena Prasad and is an administrator of the online Mohiniattam forum Lasyatarangini.